“Donald J. Stewart’s music is written [with] a very singular approach. Somehow, it is written with extreme precision and at the same time some parameters (especially pitches) leave a great deal of freedom to the performer. One would think it makes it easier for the performer, but in fact it gives to the performer a big responsibility.
Despite the fact that choices are left to the performer, the composer keeps a high level of control on his music. However, the system of notation brings a fluidity in the playing in a context where high virtuosity is required.”
Notation is the link between the composer’s intentions and the performer’s technique. In most cases, the composer’s understanding of the instrument – and specifically the composer’s technique on that instrument – would be beneath that of the performer’s. But the composer’s understanding of the theoretical possibilities of the instrument could (and maybe should) fall outside that of the performer’s. These instrumental possibilities may be real, but could also simply be perceived by the composer. This is not to say the composer would know more about or have possess some greater understanding of the instrument itself, but in the process of creating, the composer reaches beyond the bounds of the instrument, as we know them, to embrace the unknown…